Many veterans have the goal of being awarded 100 percent disability rating because their disabilities are so severe. Sometimes, a veteran may be incapacitated by his or her disability to a level that warrants a 100 percent disability rating, but fortunately, may be able to recover enough to where the 100 percent rating no longer accurately reflects his or her current level of disability. In such case, the VA will award temporary 100 percent disability for the time period in which the veteran was totally incapacitated. There are three types of temporary 100 percent disability ratings that a veteran may be eligible for: prestabilization ratings; convalescent ratings; and hospitalization ratings. We will discuss each of these in turn.
A 100 percent prestabilization rating may be assigned to a veteran who suffers from an unstabilized condition that was incurred in service if the unstabilized condition results in a severe disability that makes substantially gainful employment unfeasible (50 percent prestabilization ratings may be assigned under certain circumstances as well). An example of this would be residuals from a car accident or gunshot wound. Note, the VA cannot assign a temporary 100 percent prestabilization rating where the veteran is immediately eligible for a 100 percent schedular rating or a 100 percent rating due to total disability based on individual unemployability (TDIU). Prestablization ratings are in effect for the one-year period immediately after discharge, and the VA is not able to change a prestablization rating if it would reduce benefits to the veteran during the one-year period. But, the VA is able to change the veteran’s prestabilization rating to a 100 percent schedular rating or 100 percent TDIU rating. The VA must conduct an examination between six and twelve months after the veteran is discharged, but even if the examination shows that the veteran’s disability warrants a lower rating, that reduction cannot occur until the end of the one-year period.
A veteran may also entitled to a temporary 100 percent rating for periods of hospitalization for treatment or observation which are greater than 21 days. Note, the hospital treatment or observation must be related to the veteran’s service-connected disability, but if the veteran is initially admitted to the hospital due to a non-service-connected disability, and receives treatment for his or her service-connected disability for more than 21 days during the hospital stay, he or she is still eligible for a temporary 100 percent rating for the period he or she was receiving treatment for the service-connected disability. This temporary 100 percent rating is effective from the first day of continuous hospitalization and ends the last day of the month of hospital discharge.
The third type of temporary 100 percent rating is available where a medical report establishes that a veteran needs time to convalesce following hospital discharge or outpatient release. In VA law, the term “convalesce” means “the act of regaining or returning to a normal or healthy state after a surgical operation, or an injury.” There are three circumstances under which a 100 percent convalescent rating will be issued: the veteran has undergone surgery that requires at least one month convalescence; the veteran has undergone surgery that has resulted in severe postoperative residuals; or one of the veteran’s major joints immobilized by a cast. Such benefits are effective from the date of hospital admission or outpatient treatment and may continue for a period of one to three months from the first day of the month following hospital discharge or outpatient release, and veterans are able to obtain extensions of convalesce ratings for up to 3 months, or 6 months in certain circumstances if post-operative residuals are particularly severe. Medical evidence is necessary to establish a convalescent rating, specifically a note from the veteran’s doctor stating how long he or she requires to recover.